OSHA Cites Tree Services Firm Over 17-Year Old Worker Killed in Woodchipper

February 15, 2023

On a Tuesday afternoon in the summer of August 2022, federal workplace safety inspectors responded to a police report that a 17-year-old worker had died after being pulled into a woodchipper at a work site near Allentown.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation has determined that the teen’s employer – a Lehigh Valley tree service company owned and operated by Adam Atiyeh – could have prevented the incident by following required federal safety standards.

OSHA said it learned that the young worker was partially pulled into a woodchipper as he fed entangled material into the machine on Aug. 9, 2022, at a Schnecksville site, and later died from his injuries. Investigators said they were told the company had allowed three minor-aged workers to operate the woodchipper, a hazardous occupation forbidden by federal child labor laws.

The agency issued the company and Atiyeh citations for 10 serious safety violations and proposed total penalties of $124,987.

Agency investigators allege the employer, which operates as both Adam’s Tree Service and Adam’s Tree Removal and Trimming, failed to make sure employees used personal protective equipment; train workers to safely operate a woodchipper; have personnel at the work site with first aid training, and maintain portable fire extinguishers.

OSHA said it has referred the alleged child labor violations to the department’s Wage and Hour Division for further investigation.

Based in Schnecksville, Atiyeh and his company provide services for property owners in Bethlehem, Schnecksville and throughout Lehigh County.

The employer has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Topics Workers' Compensation

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